5 Ways Freelancers are Getting High-Paying Freelance Clients through LinkedIn
About half of all freelancers (51%) find clients through LinkedIn, according to How Freelancers Market their Services: 2017 Survey. The #1 business social network often helps freelancers get steady, high-paying clients.
There are many ways for freelancers to use LinkedIn to find clients. Some are easy. Others take time and effort. But all work, if you lay the groundwork by:
- Developing a client-focused profile
- Building a large network of colleagues and clients
- Being active on LinkedIn
- Learning how to search on LinkedIn.
Developing a client-focused profile an learning how to search on LinkedIn are covered here. 4 Steps to Freelance Success on LinkedIn covers building your network and being active on LinkedIn.
2 Easy Ways to Get Freelance Clients through LinkedIn
#1. Attracting clients searching for freelancers with a client-focused profile
Having a client-focused profile has paid off for freelance writers Lindy Alexander, PhD, Dana Randall, MS, PharmD, CMPP, MWC, and John Espirian.
“Ultimately, clients want to know that you can solve a particular problem for them or get them a result,” says Lindy. A freelance writer, researcher, and content creator based in Australia who focuses on health, business and food writing, Lindy is absolutely right!
If your profile doesn’t grab the attention of a busy client in a few seconds, the client will be clicking on the profile of the next freelancer in the search results.
Using the right keywords in her profile has helped Dana get clients through LinkedIn.
“One client was searching for medical writers with HEOR experience, and I mentioned that type of experience in my profile. Another was looking for scientific directors, and I mentioned that in my profile. A third was looking for publication writers, and again, my publications experience is in my profile,” she says. Including her credentials, a PharmD and a CMPP, also helps Dana attract clients.
“LinkedIn is the best social network for business leads,” says John, who has gotten high-paying clients who found him on searches. Based in the South Wales, UK, John specializes in producing simple B2B support content that helps business clients gain and retain customers.
You’ll rank higher on search results if you’re active on LinkedIn. 4 Steps to Freelance Success on LinkedIn shows you how to do this.
Craft a compelling, keyword-focused headline
Your headline is the most important part of your profile for:
- Showing up in search results
- Attracting clients.
A compelling, keyword-focused headline has 2 parts:
- A clear description of what you do
- A benefit statement (how you help your clients).
Here are a few compelling, keyword-focused headlines.
Freelance medical writer * Targeted Content to Attract, Engage, and Motivate Your Audiences * On time, every time
The relentlessly helpful technical copywriter
Freelance food, travel, health and business writer | Social researcher
More headline and title tips
Clients will find you more often if you include “freelancer” or “freelance writer” (OR: “freelance ADD YOUR FIELD HERE”) in your headline, because that’s how they search on LinkedIn. Use other keywords related to your services that clients will search for too.
LinkedIn gives you 120 characters for your headline. Use them to attract clients and make them want to learn more about you.
Be compelling, conversational, and concise
Your LinkedIn profile is a marketing tool, not a resume. So your summary has to be compelling, conversational, and concise. Include just enough key content so that clients know that you’re the right choice for them.
Only the first 201 characters (45 in mobile) in your summary show before people need to click See more. Make sure the first two sentences of your summary flow with your headline and offer a clear, concise, client-focused (benefit-oriented) message. The first two sentences are usually about 201 characters, with the second sentence sometimes continuing after See more.
Me on “regular” LinkedIn:
Targeted medical content attracts, engages, and motivates your audience(s). As a freelance medical writer, I help hospitals/health systems, disease-focused health organizations, clinical trial sponsors, foundations, and other clie . . .
Me on LinkedIn mobile:
Targeted medical content attracts, engages, and motivates your audience(s). As a freelance medical wr . . .
Need help explaining how your products, services and processes work? Get in touch: email@example.com. I write relentlessly helpful content that helps you gain and retain customers. I specialise in writing for the web, turning co . . .
Along with your client-focused message, “just enough” key content includes a concise summary of your:
- Relevant experience
- Relevant background
“Relevant” means what your clients care about, not what’s important to you.
Industries are no longer shown on profiles, but they’re still there behind the scenes, and used by LinkedIn’s search algorithm. So include yours.
Use professional images
Your background image and profile photo are the first thing the client sees, so they need to be clear and professional. The profile photo, now in center of the intro section, is smaller than it was before LinkedIn’s 2017 changes, and round. Make sure that your photo still looks great, and that key parts of the photo haven’t been cropped out.
Most people use LinkedIn’s generic background image, which is professional and clear. If you want to change your background image, LinkedIn recommends an image that’s 1536 x 396 pixels (a change from the earlier size). Don’t use an image that has information people need to read—because it may not be visible or legible across smart phones, tablets, laptops, and desktops.
Get yours for free. Just click here.
#2. Connecting with people who view your profile
Ruwaida Vakil, MS, a freelance medical writer and owner of ProMed Write LLC, and Lindy have gotten clients by connecting with people who viewed their profile. “I met a great client who was looking for a writer for patient education materials. I invited her to connect with me, and within two weeks I had my first project with her. She is now a valued ongoing client,” says Ruwaida.
Most clients are very busy. They may check you out on LinkedIn, but not connect with you. They could be too busy to do this—even though they need freelance help—or not be looking for freelancers right now. Either way, being proactive and inviting people who view your profile to connect with you will help ensure that they think of you first when they do need a freelancer.
“By reaching out to people who have looked at your profile and sending an invitation to connect, you are proactively making an association that might otherwise not have gone anywhere,” says Lindy.
After a financial consultant viewed her profile, Lindy Googled his company to figure out if he might need a freelance writer. She saw that he had a blog, which could benefit from professional writing. Lindy invited him to connect on LinkedIn and began building a relationship with him. Now she’s writing regular blog posts for this client.
See your profile views
With a free account, LinkedIn only lets you see the names of the last few people who viewed your profile. So you need to check your LinkedIn home page regularly (at least a few times a week).
To see who’s viewed your profile:
- Go to your home page and look at the box on the left
- See the number of people who’ve viewed your profile
- Click on the number for information on the most recent people who viewed your profile.
You can easily connect with anyone who is a 1st- or 2nd-degree connection with a free account.
To connect with 3rd-degree connections and people who aren’t connections, look for the … to the right of the person’s name. When you click on this one of the options is Connect. Click Connect and then write a personal invitation.
Also, make more parts of your profile publically searchable by updating your privacy settings in LinkedIn. Here’s how to do this:
- Go to the “Me” tab at the top of the LinkedIn screen
- Choose “Settings & Privacy”
- Click “Privacy”
- Click “Edit Your Public Profile”
- Choose “Make My Public Profile Visible to Everyone.”
3 Other Ways to Get Freelance Clients through LinkedIn
#3. Responding to opportunity
LinkedIn notifications keep you updated on the professional moves and achievements of clients and colleagues. Sandy, a visual integrated marketer in print, web, and video for B2B and B2C markets and owner of High Profile Group, LLC, used one of these notifications to re-connect with a former client.
After getting a notification that the former client had recently started working at another company, Sandy sent him a message through LinkedIn. “I congratulated him and let him know I would be happy to help him on future projects,” she says. “About 3 months later, he called and had several projects which have resulted in approximately $10K worth of billing. Not bad for a quick, simple email that started the ball rolling!”
Anne, a freelance medical writer and owner of Write Market Access, got two clients by responding to, instead of ignoring, headhunters (recruiters). Many freelance medical writers consider recruiters who are looking to fill full-time jobs a waste of their time. But Anne took a different approach. After accepting connection requests from two recruiters, one sent Anne a message about a full-time job with a medical communications agency. Out of curiosity, Anne decided to talk to him, and learned all about the company and the position.
“I realized that I hit the jackpot,” says Anne. “I had the name of a medical communications company that was desperately in need of a medical writer with my exact skill set.” So Anne searched LinkedIn and found the executive vice president, vice president, and human resources agent for the company. “I sent each of those individuals a cordial introduction of myself and a few writing samples. Within a week I had a new client,” she says.
Anne used the same process with the other headhunter—and landed another new client! She told both headhunters that she was launching a freelance medical writing business.
Click here to read more about how Anne gets clients.
#4. Finding and contacting prospects
LinkedIn is also a great tool for finding prospects and reaching out to them. Lindy and Deb Dulin both get clients by doing this. Deb is a graphic designer and branding expert, and owner of Dulin Design LLC.
John has found a great way to find clients who are looking for freelancers on the LinkedIn mobile app. 4 Steps to Freelance Success on LinkedIn tells you how to do this.
Use LinkedIn to:
- Search for prospects
- Find the right contact person for companies/organizations you’d like to work with
- Find more relevant prospects through “People Also Viewed.”
In the search bar, click “Search for people with filters.” On the right hand side, you can search by:
- Your connections
- Current company
- Location (e.g., the United States).
In general searches, you’ll get a lot of results, but LinkedIn sorts results by relevance so the top results should be best.
If you know a particular company you want to work with, search for it and then use keywords to find people with the right job titles.
Lindy and Deb both search for prospects by job title. The right title (and department) varies for different types of freelance work and in different companies.
For Lindy, the relevant job titles are:
- Content marketing manager
- Brand manager
- Marketing manager
- Head of communications
- Digital marketing manager
- Online/digital editor
Deb’s relevant job titles are:
- Marketing director
- Business owner.
In large organizations, the people who hire freelancers usually have titles like:
- Vice president
- Associate directors.
They usually work in departments like:
When you find a good prospect/contact person, check out his/her “People Also Viewed” section. This is a great way to find:
- Colleagues at the same company who may be better prospects for you (higher or lower in the company)
- People at different, but similar, companies with the same/similar job title.
Reaching out to prospects
Once you find prospects, there are 2 main ways to reach out to them:
- On LinkedIn, using social selling
- Direct email.
I prefer direct email, because social selling takes more time and effort. Direct email means sending each prospect an email customized to his/her needs and how you can meet these needs. When done right, it’s very effective. And it’s acceptable to “sell” your services in your first contact with the prospect using direct email.
Click here to learn how to use direct email effectively.
Deb uses LinkedIn to research the prospect before reaching out. “Finding something in common is another benefit of LinkedIn, as I prefer warm introductions,” she says. Deb initially contacts the prospect through LinkedIn, and then moves the discussion to regular email. After that, they talk on the phone or meet in person.
#5. Getting social in your selling
Marketing to prospects on LinkedIn, called “social selling,” is different than others types of marketing. While many experts recommend this, social selling takes time and effort, because it uses a series of contacts to build relationships over time. Most of the contacts focus on providing your connections with valuable information and/or resources. It only works if your prospects are active on LinkedIn. Otherwise, they’re not likely to respond at all.
“Be prepared to play a long game,” says Lindy, who has gotten clients through social selling. “Sometimes connections and conversations can pay off quickly, but really, it’s about developing a relationship and trust, and that takes time,” she says in her free report, 3 Steps to Finding High-Paying Clients on LinkedIn.
John also uses social selling. “I connect with as many prospects as I can as early as I can in our professional relationship. This gives me a chance to demonstrate my ability to explain things (via tips and other helpful content), and hence shows that I could be the right documentation pro for them,” he says.
Searching by a combination of location and job titles, John identifies key people of interest. He looks for common ground in their profile descriptions and then sends them a personalized connection request. “It’s important not to start by making a sales pitch, though—this is a near-certain way to be ignored,” he says.
Notice that both Lindy and John focus on building relationships and helping their prospects, not using a hard sell.
Social selling—and all marketing—is something of a numbers game. “Be persistent and prepared to send out lots of requests to connect. Landing high-paying clients get easier with time, but you have to put in the work,” says Lindy.
Which of these ways works best for you in getting clients on LinkedIn? Email me and let me know: firstname.lastname@example.org.
From the Mighty Marketer
LinkedIn advanced tips (links to John’s most popular posts about LinkedIn)